ASHBURN, VA. -- For all the fuss over Robert Griffin III, the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year hasn't taken a single snap this spring.
Kirk Cousins has been Washington's No. 1 quarterback through OTAs and will be through this week's minicamp. That's a role he didn't figure on having last December and one he knows will disappear once Griffin is fully recovered from knee surgery, perhaps as soon as the July 25 start of training camp.
Griffin reiterated Tuesday that he expects to be taking snaps in Richmond on July 25. Coach Mike Shanahan said that it's up to the doctors to clear Griffin, who has spent the spring working on the side with fellow rehabbing Redskins, such as receiver Pierre Garcon, tight ends Fred Davis and Jordan Reed and running back Chris Thompson.
Even if Griffin's ready when camp starts, he might not take as many practice reps or play as much in preseason as a typical 23-year-old quarterback because of the brace that covers the right knee in which he had the June 9 surgery to repair the ACL and LCL. That would give Cousins extra chances to show his ability in July and August when everyone's in full pads.
But no matter when he returns to his standard backup role, Cousins believes he's making the most of the lengthy chance to work with the starters.
"I see this as a great opportunity for me, however long it lasts," Cousins said. "I wasn't expecting to be with the No. 1 offense much at all, so now to be able to do it for (an extended period) will help my growth and development tremendously."
Shanahan, who drafted Cousins in the fourth round last year, three rounds after selecting Griffin, sees his backup developing well this spring with the extra snaps.
"Kirk has done an excellent job," Shanahan said. "Any time a quarterback gets reps, he's going to improve himself. You can see the progression in his game. He's playing with a lot of confidence and we like what we see. Kirk is a student of the game. He leaves no stone unturned in his preparation. He's got that type of mindset. He's extremely bright, but you've got to go out there and do it. That's what Kirk has the ability to do right now, get a lot more reps going into his second year. I think it will be invaluable to him for years to come."
Of course, Cousins also played more than he expected as a rookie, filling in for the injured Griffin against the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens, starting against the Cleveland Browns and finishing out the playoff loss against the Seattle Seahawks.
"I view this as a proving ground to see if I deserve to be a starter," said Cousins," who is signed through 2015. "I want to play so well in practice that even if I'm not the guy, the coaches are watching film and saying, 'I can't wait until we can give this guy an opportunity to show us what he can do on Sundays.' I have to be preparing like I'm starting. If you start to let the thought creep in your mind of, 'I'm probably not going to start,' I think your preparation starts to suffer. If I play well, it opens up doors elsewhere. If I don't play well, it doesn't."